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An Evaluation on the Biological Theories of Crime

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Introduction

An Evaluation on the Biological Theories of Crime The biological theories of crime are based on the nature versus nurture debate. Are we born criminals or do we learn crime? The main objective of these theories is: 'Does the way you look say that you are a criminal?' Lombroso (1876) introduced the first theory. This theory proposes the following three points: You have an innate predisposition towards criminal behaviour. In other words crime is something you are born to do. Your physiognomy - the way you are going to turn out by the way you look. We as 'normal' humans are termed as Homo Sapiens. Criminals are thought to be 'retarded'; therefore they are termed as Homo Deliquens. Lombroso stated that criminals (homo delinquens) exhibit the following physical characteristics: A narrow sloping brow symbolizing low intellect High cheekbones and large ears Extra nipples, fingers or toes A renowned jaw symbolizing strong passion Lombroso had also stated that these criminals behaved in a different way to everyone else. ...read more.

Middle

They may have been subjected to crime at a young age because they may have had a parent who took drugs or smoked and if there was no money to buy the drugs then they would be made to steal in order to get the money. A strong criticism of Lombroso's theory was that it encouraged stereotyping. This, in turn, would then encourage prejudice and discrimination. For example if children are shown a picture of a man with tattoos, they will indicate a negative attribution towards the picture rather than to a picture of a man without tattoos (tattoos on a man are known to be a good indicator of being a criminal). Yet, the only problem with stereotyping is that there is no strong evidence to prove it and that the research methods used were defective. It has also been criticised on methodological grounds: A proper control group was not used The criminal samples contained mostly mentally disturbed people However, Lombroso's theory proved to useful because he challenged the idea that criminals are wicked or that they choose to be criminals. ...read more.

Conclusion

Any follow up studies have produced inconsistent results, therefore unreliable. The study underestimates the effects of environmental influences on our behaviour. More objective criteria can make the differences between the groups decrease. However, the delinquents are shown to be more mesomorphic than non-delinquents. There are alternative explanations towards Sheldon's findings. They are as follows: The reason for their muscular body type is that mesomorphs who commit crime may be occupied with heavy manual labour as a result of their poverty. An inclination towards crime may have been reinforced if muscular people realise that they can use their additional strength to control other people and achieve anything they want in life very quickly and ahead of time. The police may respond in a different manner to tough looking people rather than people who look weak and this would therefore lead to more negative judgments of tough people. The major problem of both these theories is that they both believed that correlations imply causalities when in actual fact this is not true because this could be due to poverty. Word Count: 1,000 Amritpal Saund Psychology ...read more.

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